Fifty-four years after the brutal beating of black civil rights protesters in Alabama catalyzed the passage of sweeping voting rights legislation, politicians and civic leaders gathered in a Selma church on Sunday morning and once again decried the state of voting rights in America.
The annual church service in Selma's Brown Chapel AME's sanctuary was as much a commemoration of the historical Bloody Sunday march as it was a clarion call for looming Democratic legislative and political battles.
"We can't indulge in a moral amnesia and forget that you honor history not just by reciting it, but by emulating it," said U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker of New Jersey. "Let it challenge you, demand from you. We come together to honor the sacrifices today. The only way we can honor the work done before us is by recommitting ourselves to it."
Last week, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., introduced a bill seeking to restore key provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the legislation that was sparked when hundreds of civil rights protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965. The non-violent marchers were met with clubs and tear gas from white law enforcement in a brutal clash that shocked the nation.